Serey: a Cambodian social media platform on the blockchain inspired by Friedrich Hayek

Serey is a new Social Media platform that specifically targets the Cambodian market. The country that saw nearly a quarter of the population decimated during the civil war of the 60’s and 70’s, the Khmer rouge regime, and the subsequent famine, has gone through rapid economic developments in the past two decades due to its friendliness to free markets. Accompanying this development is the adoption of new information technologies. One such technology is social media, and blockchain.

These two technologies are now combined into a social media platform called Serey. It rewards content creators, such as writers, for their creativity. The platform now has 400-500 users who all contribute by writing content ranging from short fictional stories to history, philosophy, and technology. Users can post any content they want. There is no central authority that can censor the posts in any way. The system is based on a democratic voting system in which every user can vote on articles. Dependent on the votes, the content creators are rewarded with the platform’s native cryptocurrency called Serey coins (SRY).

What does Serey stand for? 

The name of the platform, Serey (សេរី in Khmer), is derived from the Khmer word seripheap (សេរីភាព) which stands for liberty or freedom. The platform is built on the philosophy of liberty and is inspired by Friedrich Hayek’s theory of dispersed knowledge. Realizing that every individual knows just a fraction of what is collectively known and that our collective knowledge is therefore decentralized, Serey is looking to encourage the sharing of the unique information that individuals possess through the Serey platform. It wants to create an open platform where everyone is free to enter, to exercise their creativity without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. The platform also encourages to engage in thoughtful, civilized discussions.

There was no such online platform in Cambodia yet. Cambodia, at this moment, also doesn’t have a culture of reading and writing. Serey is aiming to transform this so there is also an educational component to it.

We need to learn to dance with our feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?

The mission statement of Serey is as follows:

“Rewarding self-expression and creativity.”

Why is Serey run on a blockchain?

The Serey blockchain allows the storage of content – actually only the actual text of the article and no pictures or videos to keep block sizes minimal – in a distributed manner. Anything written on Serey is stored on a blockchain that is shared among many other servers, called witnesses, that run an exact copy of the blockchain. This makes all content tamper-proof and censorship nearly impossible. This is in line with Serey’s belief that everyone should have the right to free expression.

In addition, a blockchain serves the people’s right to keep the fruits of their labour. Serey cannot take away any of its users Serey coins. All earnings are rightfully theirs and they can spend it in any way they want.

What are the features of Serey?

Serey is principally a fork of Steemit – another social media platform on the blockchain – and therefore essentially makes use of the Graphene technology that also powers Steemit and Bitshares. However, whereas Steemit is trying to create a one-size-fit-all approach with their platform, Serey is entirely dedicated to the people of Cambodia. They believe that regional differences require different user interfaces and functionalities that match the people’s cultural makeup and level of sophistication with blockchain technology.

Compared to Steemit, Serey has a different layout, a market place section, a Khmer language option, an free advertisement section, and a simplified reward system.

The Serey Decentralized Exchange is currently under development and will offer an English and Khmer language option.

In addition, the Serey Decentralized Exchange is currently being built in cooperation with developers close to Steemit and Bitshares. It will be a full-fledged decentralized exchange that is accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world. Users will then be able to trade Serey coins (SRY) for 15-20 other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, Bitshares etc.

Other features that Serey users can look forward to in the next six months are an online betting system, improvements of the market place section, an integrated chat feature similar to that of Messenger, and a mobile app.

If you are interested in Serey, please feel free to visit the website and to register for free. Most articles are written in Khmer, but English articles are welcome as well.

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SEREY: an exciting Social Media platform on the blockchain in Cambodia

Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication, The Startup, has published an article about Serey – a Cambodian social media platform on the blockchain that I have co-founded. I will publish the article here as well.

SEREY: an exciting Social Media platform on the blockchain in Cambodia

There is a new Social Media platform that specifically targets the Cambodian market. The country that saw nearly a quarter of the population decimated during the civil war of the 60’s and 70’s, the Khmer rouge regime, and the subsequent famine, is quickly rising. Accompanied by its astounding economic development of the past two decades, the country has clearly shrugged off its troubled past and is eagerly looking to a bright future. Accompanying its development also comes adoption of new technologies.

One such technology is blockchain. It is now adopted by the Serey team for their social media platform where content creators like writers and singers are rewarded for publishing their content. The Serey platform is recently live, and already has many users writing content ranging from fictional short stories to cryptocurrencies, self-made beauty products, and culture. The system is based on a democratic voting system in which every user can vote on articles. Dependent on the number of votes and who have given the votes, content creators are rewarded with the platform’s native cryptocurrency called Serey coins (SRY).

On the founders of Serey

The founders of Serey are two Cambodian brothers who were born in a Cambodian refugee camp called Khao I Dang which is on the Thai-Cambodian border. During the Khmer rouge period of 1975–1978, their parents fled the country and ended up in the camp. For a more detailed recollection of life in the camp, one of the founders’ memoires of the camp has been published by the Foundation of Economic Education which is located in the United States.

In 1991, at the age of around 5–6 years, the founders were granted residentship in the Netherlands. They have been educated in Economics (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and Philosophy (Macau and Dublin, Ireland). Influenced by the philosophy of classical liberalism and Friedrich Hayek’s theory of dispersed knowledge, the two founders have sought for ways to utilize blockchain technology to create a platform where people can express their creativity in Cambodia, share knowledge, and engage in thoughtful, civilized discussions. At this moment, there is no such online platform yet. The founders are hopeful that one day the Serey platform will be seen as the testimony that Cambodia is full of talented and vibrant people.

On the Serey Vision and Philosophy

Serey aims at becoming a premier Social Media platform where people can express their creativity freely. Realizing that every individual knows just a fraction of what is collectively known and that the nature of our collective knowledge is therefore inherently decentralized, Serey would like to encourage sharing of the unique information that individuals possess through the Serey platform.

In short, Serey wants to create an open platform where everyone is free to enter, no matter what their station of birth, race or economic power is. It is a place where anyone, anywhere may exercise their creativity without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity. Where users share fun and interesting content with each other, while making friends.

We need to learn to dance with our feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with the pen?

On the Serey Mission

The Serey mission can therefore be summarized as:

“Rewarding self-expression and creativity.”

On the differences between Serey and traditional Social Media

Traditional Social Media like for example Facebook and Twitter have generated billions of dollars for their shareholders by taking users’ content and selling it to advertisers. Instead of channeling value to a small group of shareholders, the participants of the Serey platform are rewarded for their writing. Hence, value flows to those that provide content.

The very first moment you join www.serey.io, you are offered a small amount of Serey which gives your voice a weight in determining what content should be rewarded.

On the Serey platform and its features

Serey is principally a fork of Steemit — another social media platform on the blockchain — and therefore essentially makes use of the Graphene technology behind Steemit and Bitshares. However, where Steemit is trying to conquer the world, Serey is entirely dedicated to the people of Cambodia. Serey believes that regional differences require different user interfaces, and specific functionalities that match the people’s cultural makeup and their level of sophistication with blockchain technology. The Serey team have therefore chosen to create a platform with:

1) A brand new layout
2) A market place section
3) A Khmer language option
4) An advertisement section
5) A simplification of the reward system

The Serey DEX in May/June, 2018

In addition to the above changes, Serey will release a Serey Decentralized Exchange (Serey DEX)which is currently being set up in cooperation with developers close to Bitshares and Steemit. It will be a full-fledged decentralized exchange accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world.

The Serey Decentralized Exchange is currently under development and will offer an English and Khmer language option

Next to the Serey coins (SRY), the exchange will have the most important cryptocurrencies listed like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash and also such national currency digital assets like bitUSD, bitEUR and bitCNY. With the Serey DEX, Cambodian people will have an interesting cryptocurrency trading platform to look forward to. It will be available in English and in Khmer — the native language of the Cambodian people. Currently, there is not one local cryptocurrency exchange in Cambodia yet.

Other features
Other exciting features on Serey to look forward to this year are an online betting system, improvements of the market place section, and an integrated chat similar to that of Facebook.

On the Blocksimple Partnership

The Serey team has a partnership with the highly regarded USA based blockchain consulting and development service, Blocksimple, which has experience developing blockchain projects in the USA, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Ukraine. Next to consultation on the development of the Serey platform, Blocksimple has also developed its pre-sale website, and continues to be an important partner for Serey.

On the Serey Whitepaper

Serey has released their whitepaper publically, which you can find here.

On the Pre-sale/ICO

Currently, Serey is going through a pre-sale. There are 100 million initial Serey coins created of which 55 million is sold to the public at the starting price of $0.015 and gradually moving up to $0.020. The team is hoping to raise at least $500,000 which will give them enough breathing room to develop the platform for the next 5 years.

In addition to a rise in the price of one SRY, investors can also benefit from (1) receiving interest on the coins due to its Delegated Proof of Stake system and from (2) an increased weight of their voting power when they upvote articles on the Serey platform. This means that they have more influence on the distribution of rewards to articles.

In order to take part in the pre-sale, one should make an account on www.serey.io first.

A link to the pre-sale website is www.sale.serey.io, and the payment methods are BTC, ETH and LTC. More information on the pre-sale can be found in the whitepaper (pp. 14–15).

Contact

If you have any questions, you can reach the team through:

E-mail: contact@serey.io.
Facebook: Serey Platform / Serey.io

Early childhood memories of a Cambodian refugee camp

In 1991, sixteen Khmer families from Cambodian refugee camps (mostly from Khao I Dang) received asylum in the Netherlands. On November 5, 2016, we celebrated the 25th anniversary. To commemorate our stay in the Netherlands, I would like to share some of my early childhood memories about being born in a Cambodian refugee camp in 1986.

I understand that my story is just one small, but essential part of my family’s overall journey for safety from the civil war (1967-1975), Khmer Rouge (1975-1979) regime, and the subsequent Vietnamese occupation. According to some estimates, 2 million out of 8 million people died during this long period. This figure has been contested many times. I don’t think anyone knows how many people have actually died, but if I look at the family members of my parents’ households: 40% from my mum’s side died and 25% from my dad’s side.

Khao I Dang, the refugee camp where I was born

My parents were forced to work in labour camps in the countryside in Battambang by the Khmer Rouge. They eventually met each other while fleeing from Battambang to the Thai border when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia. As with most fleeing Cambodians, my parents decided to get together – not out of love, but more out of the need and desire to share their hardships. This was after all, a months-long journey through the heart of the Cambodian jungle in which my father lost his father, the granddad I never came to know. My mother lost her brother and her father. As my mother was separated from her brother early on during the Khmer Rouge regime and never witnessed his death, she had always held hope that one day she would find him again.

My parents’ long journey towards Thailand brought them to the Sa Kaeo camp which was the first organized refugee camp that opened in 1979. Within just 8 days, the refugee population grew to 30,000. The camp eventually closed down half a year later, because of unfavorable conditions. The drainage in the campsite was for example so poor that several refugees, too weak to lift their heads, drowned from a flood as they laid on the floor in tents made of plastic sheets.

One month after the opening of Sa Kaeo, the Khao I Dang camp was opened and many people were repatriated into Khao I Dang. My parents eventually ended up there as well.

Khao I Dang camp

Khao I Dang was a refugee camp on the Thai-Cambodian border where I was born. It was a bamboo village with dirt roads, barbed wire, and armed guards. Within just 5 months, the camp’s population reached 160,000. Population wise, this would make the camp the 11th largest municipality in the Netherlands.

Although the camp gave us more safety, violence and theft ran rampant.

Religion and death

People continued their religious activities and some houses were transformed into places for Buddhist ceremonies. In this picture you see my two brothers, my father, and I wearing our best clothes. We just came back from a visit to a local ‘temple’. The husband of my aunty, who had just been allowed to find refuge in Australia, had recently died in the camp.

My two brothers, me, and my father

Behind me is a grave of him. My father hired a photographer to take this picture so that he could send it to my aunty. I am the one barefooted.

Hospital

My father worked at the hospital. The hospital was a large hall with beds placed next to each other. I remember that I visited the hospital where I was given a doctor’s gloves to play with. I would blow it and enjoy a child’s kick out of it.

Hospital in Khao I Dang

Night raids

I remember that during some nights, rebels with guns would raid people’s houses to steal their belongings. Often, the word about night raids spread faster than the rebels themselves, and so most of the times we were warned before the rebels reached us. I remember very well one incident when we did not flee early enough.

My brothers and I ran after my father, while my mother took my baby sister in her arms to flee in separate directions. My father brought us into a nearby canal to hide there. When the Thai patrolling soldiers within the camp arrived at the scene, shooting between the two groups erupted. When I think back to this moment, I can still clearly feel the fear I had. I wanted to cry, but my father put his hands tightly on my mouth so that I would not make any sound. We then fled to the hospital where my father was working, and stayed there during the night. We were too afraid to go back home, and waited until the next morning.

In another incident, our neighbors were too late to flee and somehow for reasons unknown, a rebel threw a hand grenade inside their little home that killed the whole family.

Kindergarten

Despite the violence and misery, people tried to rebuild their normal lives. I went to kindergarten and remember so well one incident that I played hooky.

I was 4 years old and walking to school by myself, I stopped and decided to return home to my mother’s small shop. This is an incident that I am personally extremely proud of. As long as I can remember, I have always detested school. I hated to sit still and to be told what to do and what not to do. I took this attitude with me to the Netherlands, and still today I am very critical of schooling. My mother, a soft young woman, let me stay with her at the shop. But then my father came by, got angry with me, and spanked me for not going to school. Until this day I still don’t think that I did anything wrong.

Our little shop

Trade went on. Although it was illegal, industrious people were trying to make money by starting small businesses. This shows to me that entrepreneurship is natural to us human beings, and that economics and trade are naturally emerging processes as people are always looking for ways to improve their lot and to fulfill their needs.

Thai merchants would come to the fences, away from the Thai soldiers who were patrolling, in order to sell food to the refugees inside. Such activities occurred during night-time. When Thai soldiers would find out that we were trading with outsiders, they would beat us and take away our belongings. We, refugees, were also not allowed to get outside of the camp or we would risk being shot dead by Thai soldiers.

My mother, my brothers and I at our little shop. I am the one in the blue jersey

During day-time, people inside the camp would expose their new belongings and small shops would emerge. My mother sold small products of convenience. Some of it was smuggled by Thai people into the camps that we, Cambodians, were selling to other Cambodians. Other things like oil and sugar were given to us as part of a food relief program that we used sparingly so that we could sell it further. With the money we earned, we could then buy other goods that we needed more.

Other ways through which we made money was by brewing alcohol made from rice and apples. Although alcohol was illegal, it did not stop my parents from brewing it. Whenever a Thai soldier would come to our house for inspection – I don’t think you can really hide the alcoholic odor that was surrounding our little house when we were brewing alcohol – my parents would bribe him with money so that he would leave us alone.

Continuing story

These are some of my childhood memories of our lives in Khao I Dang. Maybe next time I can tell more about our life in the camp, share some of my older brothers’ memories, our cat that was lost, killed and eaten by someone or my first encounter with inspiring Superman and Spider-Man comic books. Maybe, I will also write about our continuing journey to the Netherlands and the psychological impact my experiences in Khao I Dang had on me. I can tell about the nightmares that haunted me until my teenage years, how I always felt alienated from the people here and the inferiority complex towards Dutch people that I developed as a little child for feeling different. Feeling different made me feel insecure. Every time I met someone, and I think it lasted until my later teenage years, I would always ponder whether the person would kill me if he would be put in similar circumstances as those many killers from the Khmer Rouge period. In other words: as a child, I already wondered excessively about the “banality of evil”. These thoughts were of course extremely unhealthy, especially when you are as young as 4 or 5 years old.

The biggest lesson I have learned from my childhood is that both good and bad experiences are important in our lives. Happiness, in my opinion, is very much overrated and hardship is at least as valuable.

I have not written this so that people pity me. Pity, and in particular self-pity, is an extremely damaging emotion. It multiplies our suffering and reveals an extremely pathological egoism. When I look back at the hardships my family has overcome, I like to remind myself of Haruki Murakami’s saying that “only assholes feel sorry for themselves”.